Think about what your child likes to eat at home and try to translate that into a lunchbox option.
Vegetables are often overlooked in the lunchbox. Try cutting up some carrot sticks or putting in a handful of cherry tomatoes.
While the humble apple is a great lunchbox filler (sturdy and hard to squash), consider cutting softer fruit up and putting it into a smaller container for protection. Berries and kiwi fruit survive very well this way.
Dairy can be hard to include, particularly in hot weather. If you can't safely get a yoghurt into the lunch box, make sure you offer dairy when she comes home from preschool.
Last night's leftovers in a container with a small spoon can make a welcome change to the parade of endless sandwiches.
Try putting together a small picnic in their lunchbox - slices of tomato, ham, grated carrot, grated cheese and some bread and butter - so she can build her own sandwich.
Stick to water in the drink bottle - most juices are full of sugar and make the drink-bottle smelly. They also don't do a very good job of quenching thirst.
Homemade pikelets are a great snack - easy to make ahead of time, they're filling and don't require any extra toppings.
10 top lunch box ideas
- The three bowl approach: fill one bowl with fruit, one with treats and one with dairy (such as tubs of yoghurt or cheese sticks). Let the kids make their own lunches by selecting one item from each bowl. Just add a sandwich, a bottle of water and lunch is ready.
- Moving on from bread: try bagels, wraps, multigrain sandwich crackers, pitta bread, hot cross buns, scones or pikelets.
- The surprise factor: Okay, so your child will not budge from the Vegemite sandwich. Introduce the unexpected by cutting their Vegemite sandwich with a cookie cutter. It may well be their first step in understanding that variety is the spice of life.
- The leftover lunch: Cook a little extra dinner the night before and save for lunch the next day. Roast chicken, pasta salad, quiche, homemade pizza slices and sausages are just a few examples that are delicious cold for lunch. We have a fridge which can store foods like chicken, rice or dairy.
- The lunchbox: If you use a lunchbox that keeps food chilled, you can send tubs of yoghurt, small containers of dip or cottage cheese mixed with pineapple pieces to school without fear of salmonella poisoning.
- Perfect packaging: hard boiled eggs, small tins of baked beans or tuna and the ziplock bag are a sandwichs best friend - no spills; no soggy sandwich.
- Filling fillings: banana and honey; mashed egg and mayonnaise; ham, cheese and tomato; cream cheese, tuna, cucumber and carrot.
- The love note: add a little message from you to brighten their day, and their lunch if they're not going to be happy with what you snuck in!
- No sneaking things in: Children will be more likely to eat their lunch if they have had a hand in preparing it. See idea 1.
- Find something new: ask other mums what they offer their children for lunch.